Putin Officially Suspends Russia’s Participation In INF Treaty With U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin / Getty Images

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The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms-control agreement with the United States.

Putin ordered the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty be suspended until Washington stops violating the accord, according to the text of the decree placed on the Kremlin's website on March 4.

The Russian president also ordered the Foreign Ministry to inform signatories to the INF of Moscow's move.

Russia announced last month it was withdrawing from the pact after the United States launched the six-month process to leave the INF because of violations by Moscow.

Russia denies violating the accord and accuses the United States of breaking the accord itself, allegations rejected by Washington.

Speaking after Russia announced formally it was suspending its participation, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia should return to compliance with the INF Treaty, which he called a "cornerstone for European security for decades."

The bilateral INF Treaty, the first of its kind to eliminate an entire class of missiles, banned both countries from developing, producing, and deploying ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

Washington and NATO have repeatedly accused Moscow of violating the accord by developing the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8.

Moscow has accused the United States in turn that it wanted to abandon the pact so it can start a new arms race.

The 9M729 missiles that Russia has deployed were in "clear and blatant violation" of the INF Treaty, Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

"We will take our time, we will be measured, we will be united and coordinated," he said of NATO's response, adding that the Western military alliance has no "intention of deploying new ground-launched nuclear weapons in Europe."

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